What a dish
Can Mac’n Cheese Dinner Parties cure your singles scene hangover? Filmmaker Saya Hillman thinks so. Twice a month in her North Side home, Hillman arranges small, relaxed gatherings of eight strangers as a singles alternative to awkward set-ups or crowded bars. An even better reason to go: Hillman knows so much about hooking people up, she made a film about it.
Hillman directed, filmed, edited and produced the relationship documentary, Dating Rubik’s Cube, which won a Best Short Documentary award at the 2006 Illinois International Film Festival. Hillman covered the dating life of 12 single Chicagoans from all different professions and backgrounds. Along the way, she learned a thing or two about what people crave: A more interesting way to connect with others.
After finishing the doc, she started giving the dinner parties to provide that connection. “It’s not a dating service,” Hillman notes, “but if something comes out of it romantically, then fantastic.” Hillman designed an elaborate spreadsheet to create the right mix of guests for lively conversation. She aims for age compatibility within each group (average age is 29), an even male to female ratio, and a range of professional interests and sexual preferences. The most crucial factor: No one knows anyone else there. “That way people come into the situation expecting—and excited to—put themselves out there,” she says.
“Everyone has been so different,” Hillman says about the attendees of the six Mac’n Cheese Dinner Parties she’s had so far. “But they all have an adventurous spirit that leads them to meet people some place other than John Barleycorn.” The $25 fee is less than a night of drinking at the North Side bar chain, too. Hillman assigns you a bottle of wine, an appetizer or a side dish to bring with you, and you’re treated to cocktails, a sit-down dinner and marathon sessions of Pictionary, Celebrity or Taboo. At Hillman’s there is no official last call; guests have been known to chat late into the night. How warm and comforting.
The next dinner is Saturday 22. Sign up at macncheeseproductions.com/indexDP.html.